10/9/20 News Roundup: COVID-19 Second Wave, Flights To Nowhere, Skymiles Mortgage, Airlines Banning Food, Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Home Makeover, Faked Death, And More!

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Some stories and deals don’t get their own post, but should get some coverage. Here are some quick takes on stories that caught my eye.

View previous roundups and commentary here.

Table of Contents

Featured Trip Report:

DDF member PBaruch found a last minute RV deal and decided to hit the road this summer.

As always, his level of details and pictures are awesome!

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO:


KOA Campground, Gunnison, CO:


Bryce Canyon National Park, UT:


Zion National Park, UT:


Sequoia National Park, CA:

Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA:


Crater Lake National Park, OR:


Mount Rainier National Park, WA:


North Cascades National Park, WA:

Second Wave

Back in May as COVID cases were falling in the US, I worried about a second wave in the fall.

Soon enough, many shuls in NYC went back to the before times, without masks or social distancing, on the assumption that there was herd immunity.

That didn’t pan out. Super spreader events like weddings (so much for this!) and school reopenings have brought COVID back to Jewish communities in NYC metro, with massive numbers reported in communities like Lakewood. The upcoming Simchas Torah holiday this weekend has the potential to be Purim 2.0 unless preventative actions are taken seriously. COVID-19 didn’t start on Purim, I caught it with a friend in NYC on February 17th. But it was weeks later on March 10th during Purim celebrations that it spread uncontrollably and did its worst damage in NYC.

Many countries in Europe are also in the midst of a second wave. Lockdowns, whether they help or not, have returned as countries seek to avoid massive hospitalization spikes.

Which brings us back to masks. I’ve always thought that mask wearing is imperfect, but if it can help slow the spread then it’s worthwhile. I’ve advocated for them even before the CDC came to the conclusion that they help prevent the spread. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask, but it’s a whole lot better to wear masks when you’re indoors or can’t socially distance than to get locked down again!

The religious Jewish lifestyle is heavily community oriented, so it’s no surprise that to see the dense NYC metro communities get hit hard and early.

The response from politicians in New York was utterly predictable. The drawing of lockdown borders that appear to be anti-Semitic is highly unfortunate, but unsurprising. As Tablet notes, New York has bungled every response to COVID-19 and in dealing with the Jewish community. When disease disproportionally affects other groups it’s attributed to the lack of available healthcare, but Jews are singled out when it affects them. That’s nothing new, it’s a tale as old as time.

The Wall Street Journal also points out the hypocrisy of NY politicians against religious Jews (archive link).

But to be fair, we haven’t been doing enough to help our cause to stay safe and to stay out of the news. Even if this is exaggerated, it is downright embarrassing.

I suppose that I can understand the reaction to protest and start burning masks in the street l’hachis to stick it in the Mayor and Governor’s eye, but whom does that benefit? Is this being a light unto the nations? There are better ways to get things done, such as taking things to a court of law.

DDF member Yehuda57’s take resonated strongly with me:



Because of the outbreak in NYC metro, my kids’ school in Cleveland will be opening a week late after Sukkos. They will also require families to spend a week in Cleveland before their kids can go back to school. Mask compliance here has been good and have helped us avoid the crippling outbreaks and lockdowns. I don’t enjoy davening in a mask, but I’m happy to do my part to avoid a lockdown situation.

Sure, the death rate is relatively low. But are you willing to take responsibility if you pass it on to someone else who is at higher risk?

Never mind the numerous long-term complications that many have from COVID, which Israeli researchers say even includes damaged sperm and potential sterility.

The question now is whether this outbreak is the canary in the coal mine for a countrywide second wave? We’ve seen this play out in the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic with at least 3 waves, so it makes sense that, barring a vaccine, history will repeat itself.

Do Masks Benefit the Wearer?

Face masks have been shown as being effective in stopping the spread of droplets into the air that contain COVID-19.

Are they perfect? No.

Are they annoying to wear? Yes.

But we don’t have many weapons in the fight against COVID-19, so we need to use what we can.

Do they benefit the wearer? The jury is out on that, but UCSF studies have shown that they can lower the severity of the infection.

The more virus that you are exposed to can affect how sick you get. Mild or asymptomatic infections can be attributed to a lower viral load entering the body. If your mask filters out some of the virus, you may still get sick, but you may get less sick than you would have otherwise.

One proof of this was found by comparing the illnesses of the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan where only 18% of the infections were asymptomatic and on an Argentinian cruise ship where 81% of the infections were asymptomatic. A key difference were that masks were issued to everyone on the Argentine ship.

In other words, masks may not prevent COVID-19, but they may give the wearer a goldilocks dose of Coronavirus.

Can Interferon Explain Why Some Families Perform Poorly?

Bloomberg reports on evidence that an impaired interferon response is why some people do so poorly against COVID. Interferons are proteins that are made and released by virus infected cells to tell other cells in the body to fight against the virus.

COVID-19’s main trick is its ability to avoid a normal interferon response before it’s too late, so companies are working on interferon treatments, but they must be administered early in order to help.

Rogue interferon-blocking antibodies appeared in 101 of 987 patients with severe disease, but in none of 663 people with an asymptomatic or mild case, according to a study in Science.

Low interferon levels helps explain why some young and healthy people can wind up on a vent or dead from COVID. In some cases that has happened to multiple people in the same family that suffer from the same genetic defect.

One possible solution is to try to remove interferon-blocking antibodies from the body and to stop people with interferon-blocking antibodies from donating plasma.

COVID Reinfection?

One of the great COVID mysteries is how long antibody protection will last.

Several DDF members have reported getting COVID back in the first wave and testing positive again now.

An old chavrusa of mine from my time in Brazil had the same experience, getting sick back in March, having enough antibodies to donate plasma, and then testing positive again. Luckily he didn’t get very sick this time, which is how T-cell immunity should work. However it may also mean that people will just keep on spreading COVID without ever reaching herd immunity until there’s an effective vaccine.

Not everyone is as lucky. In Israel people who have been reinfected with COVID have gotten more sick the 2nd time around.

Reinfection is no longer a theory, it’s happening to many.

I wrote back in May that reinfection was one of the reasons we wouldn’t see any immunity passport. After all, antibodies for other coronaviruses only provide immunity for about a year.

The length of immunity may vary between people, but people that had COVID should no longer consider themselves immune. Those getting sick for a 2nd time now are possibly the harbingers of widespread reinfection. Reinfection would seem to rule out potential herd immunity.

Can getting reinfected be a good thing in order to strengthen antibodies before they dissipate? Maybe, but DDF member biobook explains why it’s probably not a good idea.

COVID vaccine candidates have been providing immunity levels higher than those who actually got sick, so hopefully that immunity will last longer than catching COVID. But it’s certainly possible that a COVID booster or even an annual COVID shot could be required. And the fight over vaccines will make the fight over masks look like child’s play.

Regeneron Requests Emergency Approval

President Trump has recovered from his bout with Coronavirus that saw him hospitalized due to low oxygen levels.

He credits the experimental antibody drug Regeneron for getting him back on his feet and the company now seeks emergency approval for it.

Interestingly, hydroxychloroquine was not one of the drugs taken by Trump, though he took it prophylactically for two weeks in May.

Regeneron contains antibodies that help boost the immune response to the virus. Bill Gates has said that he believes the drug can sharply reduce the COVID-19 death toll and that preliminary results appear very positive.

Hopefully this one pans out!

Kosher Supervision During COVID-19

Bloomberg covers the story of how difficult kosher supervision has become when borders are closed.

Mashgichim have had to quarantine for 2 weeks in some countries and have had to set up and rely on security cameras to make sure everything is kosher.

The real test will come in March though, as kosher for Pesach rules are a lot more stringent than year-round rules. We got lucky this year as those items were already made, but will there be a shortage on some Pesach items in 2021?

The WSJ Digs The Yom Kippur Flight Change

Last month I wrote about United changing the time of the post-Yom Kippur flight to Israel based on a reader request.

The WSJ liked the story too, as did the USAToday and JTA.

The JTA also picked up on our coverage of Chickens on a Plane.

Israel And Jordan Sign Airspace Agreement

Israel and Jordan currently allow their airlines to fly to the other country, but not over the other country.

That explains the questions that several commenters had about why the Etihad flights to Israel had to avoid Jordanian airspace.

They have now signed a historic agreement to allow flights over Israel and Jordan and into other countries.

Another day of good news for peace in the Middle East!

Can Someone Explain The Planes To Nowhere?

The WSJ writes about the flights to nowhere from airlines like ANA, Qantas, and EVA. (Archive link). Singapore may even subsidize people to take flights to nowhere.

Plane rides that fly around for hours and return to where they started have been selling like hot cakes as people want to travel again.

I love planning trips. I love going to new places.

The plane ride itself? Sure, I love using miles to fly in first class and getting the VIP treatment to get somewhere I want to be, but even the best first class with showers can’t compare to my own food, my own drinks, my own recliner, and my own bed.

So why are people paying big bucks to fly to nowhere?

“Ms. Lin’s enthusiasm about flying waned somewhat as they headed back to Taiwan. She remembered how noisy and cold airplanes can get. She had grown a bit restless in her aisle seat. Even if she craned her neck to take in the views, she struggled to see Jeju Island clearly. The weather that day was overcast.”

You don’t say! 😀

Are flights to nowhere the most 2020 thing ever?

Delta Lands $9 Billion Mortgaging Skymiles, Promises Not To Devalue Too Much

Delta originally filed an 8-K to raise $6.5 billion by mortgaging Skymiles.

The offering was so popular, they increased it to $9 billion.

Back in June I wrote about United’s 8-K filing, which was quite fascinating.

Delta’s has some interesting tidbits as well:

  • Delta created SkyMiles IP (SMIP) for the purpose of mortgaging the program. Had it been its own entity in 2019, it would have generated $6.1 billion in cash sales and $2.4 billion net cash. That compares favorably to the $5.3 billion that United MPH sold for a $1.8 billion profit.
    • AMEX paid SMIP $3.9 billion for miles.
    • Delta paid SMIP $1.9 billion for miles awarded to members for flights flown.
    • Members bought $161 million in miles.
    • Other partners bought $100 million in miles.
  • 97% of Delta miles are used for Delta flight awards, with costs completely controlled by Delta. I’m sure American and United have more partner redemptions as their partners are much stronger than Delta’s! Delta says that dynamic pricing allows them to control all costs to guarantee a profit to the program. Surprisingly, SMIP only made $2.4 billion net cash, that means they’re paying Delta a lot for their awards.
  • Delta has over 100 million members.
  • Delta AMEX cards make up 8% of AMEX billings and 22% of AMEX loans. The AMEX relationship started in 1991 with Membership Rewards and 1996 with a co-brand card. The partnership was extended in 2019 to run through 2029.
  • Skymiles members contributed 60% of Delta’s ticket revenue and Medallion member premiums were 1.5x non-Skymiles members.
  • Medallion members average tenure as an elite is 16 years.
  • 68% of Delta members don’t live in Delta hub cities, 8% live in NYC, 6% in Atlanta, 5% in LA, 4% in Minneapolis, 3% in Detroit, and 2% each in Boston, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. Only 52% of United’s members live in non-hub cities.
  • While SMIP revenue from selling miles to Delta is down due to COVID, AMEX spending has not declined as much. Mileages sales in the first half were down 15.9%, but redemptions were down 60.1%. SMIP profits for the first half went up from $1.15B in 2019 to $1.74B in 2020, a 51.8% increase!

By mortgaging Skymiles, Delta had to agree not to substantially devalue the program or start a competing program. It’s a shame they didn’t mortgage Skymiles years ago, I’m not sure there’s much left to devalue!

David Neeleman Delays Launch Of Breeze

David Neeleman is the most prolific airline creator of our times.

He co-founded Morris Air in the 80s and sold it to Southwest after less than a decade for $130 million. He co-founded Canada’s Westjet in the mid-90s and today it is Canada’s second largest airline. He founded NewAir in the late 90s which was re-branded as JetBlue before its first flights in 2000, which were from JFK to Buffalo and Fort Lauderdale.

After being forced out from JetBlue due to a JetBlue operational meltdown during an ice storm in 2007 he went on to launch Azul Airlines in Brazil and he helped save Portugal’s TAP.

His latest US airline venture, Breeze, was supposed to have launched this month, but that has been delayed due to COVID.

He’s currently targeting March 2021, but I’d assume that’s also up in the air.

With a fleet of comfortable A195s and A220s and promised low prices with high service, I can’t wait to try them out!

Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered

Another day, another PGFHGS story.

I’ve said it about hidden city ticketing, I’ve said it about a loophole to get millions of miles, I’ve said it about opening 54 AA cards, and I’ve said it countless other times. If you come across a “glitch” that doesn’t mean you should take things to the extreme.

Billy Schwarze did just that when he realized that he could book tickets with AA gift cards and refund the ticket without American actually cancelling the ticket.

Sure, you could probably do that a few times and not get caught, but he sold hundreds of tickets to friends and scammed more than $160,000 from American. They noticed and turned it over to law enforcement.


Don’t Forget To Let Someone Know About Your Miles

Redditor u/scrapman7 shares the story of his 84 year old mother who recently passed away. She was a full time mileage junkie, opening credit cards and racking up miles. The post has plenty of valuable lessons, but the key is to be organized and to let someone know about what you have accumulated. She left millions of miles to her kids, but luckily she told them all about what she was doing, otherwise much of that could have been lost.

Have you inherited any miles? What tips do you have?

AMEX Centurion Opens In JFK

AMEX is opening a flagship Centurion Lounge in JFK’s Terminal 4 and it looks great. It’s the first Centurion lounge with 2 floors and it offers sweeping views of the tarmac and a speakeasy style bar.

AMEX has been reopening Centurion lounges across the globe as people return to the skies.

AMEX Limits Bonus Points On Airfare, Precious Metal Coins

Starting 1/1/21, AMEX Platinum cardholders who spend big on airfare will find themselves cut off. A new limit of $500,000/year has been added to the 5x earnings on airfare. I’d assume this will try to stop travel agents and people managing travel for others from getting too many bonus points on airfare.

On 1/15 AMEX will also stop awarding points on precious metal coins and will consider them to be a cash advance. I guess we’ll have to see what that means for the next US Mint issuance?

Is American The Most Infuriating Airline?

Texas Monthly has a fun rundown and history of why American is so infuriating.

They seem to do all they can to anger employees and passengers, and they gave back all of their profits from the past decade to stockholders in stock buybacks. They’re also the most likely major US carrier to go broke.

I find American to trail Delta and United by a long shot. My experiences with American trying to get to London, trying to get to my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and trying to get to the Bahamas have been horrendous, even with top-tier status.

Will they ever find their way?

American And United Flight Attendants Say Goodbye

While Delta and Southwest didn’t furlough any flight attendants, thousands of American and United flight attendants were furloughed last week.

Some of their goodbyes were quite emotional. Hopefully the industry will recover and they’ll come back soon!

The American flight attendant got a nice note from a passenger after her announcement:

Posted by Breaunna Ross on Sunday, September 27, 2020


That’s a whole lot better than this horrible note (disclaimer: language) that cost a passenger her flight privileges. Perhaps there is some hope for humanity.

United Makes Pilot Concession To Devalue Elite Status

United negotiated a new deal with their pilots to cut their minimum guaranteed hours.

Airlines are loathe to give over concessions that cost money now, so instead they will take an elite benefit and give it to the pilots. Deadheading pilots will now get confirmed first class space and if first class is full they will get priority over all United elites. United will also have to downgrade elites who got an upgrade in order to seat a deadheading pilot in first class.

Pilots deadhead when they need to catch a flight to fly a plane away from their base airport. Previously they had priority after elite members were upgraded.

Good news for pilots, bad news for United’s highest paying customers.

SAS Limits The Food Passengers Can Bring Onboard

Scandinavian airline SAS is no longer allowing passengers to bring their own meals aboard.

“You are allowed to bring light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages on board SAS flights. Examples of light snacks include a chocolate bar, a sandwich or similar. When eating the light snack, you may remove the required face mask, as long as it is put on again as soon as you are done. Meals such as salads or take-away food are not allowed to bring onboard.

We have implemented these measures to limit the contact associated with handling waste from consumption of food and beverages onboard.”

When I flew SAS business class from Newark to Oslo all I got was a Weiss cold entree of frozen gefilte fish.

You better believe I enjoyed my Chinese delivery from New Kosher Special!

Will there be a kosher exception?

When Skybus launched with $10 fares they banned outside food, but they relented for kosher meals.

My personal favorite is always the BYOK. That’s when I double wrap a meal from a restaurant and ask the flight attendant to warm that up for me after they see how atrocious the KSML is or if they are missing the KSML.

It doesn’t seem like that will be possible with SAS, where you’ll now have to sneak eat your own food.

Meanwhile on United, kosher meals are only safe if you’re flying to Tel Aviv.

Mach 4? Sign Me Up!

One of my aviation regrets is being too young to have experience flying at supersonic speeds on the Concorde.

But Aerion wants to rectify that. They’re aiming to build a commercial jet that can fly at a whopping 3,000 miles per hour, fast enough to get you anywhere on the planet in just a few hours. And they plan to design it so that people on the ground don’t hear a boom, which is what stopped the Concorde from succeeding.

Airbus and Boeing are too big to bet the farm on supersonic flying. Here’s hoping a disrupter can prove that it can be viable.

JetBlue Flies Their Final Flight From Long Beach

The Long Beach Post has the story of the final JetBlue flight from Long Beach, CA this week.


I was in yeshiva in Los Angeles when JetBlue started flying nonstop between JFK and Long Beach. They were really a great airline back then, before they forced their founder out and started copying the cuts from the major network carriers.

American was so scared of JetBlue that they too started service between JFK and Long Beach and they offered a free ticket anywhere in the world if you flew the route twice. I wound up earning 7 tickets to anywhere that American flew and on one of those tickets I flew with stopovers from Sao Paulo-Dallas-JFK-Tokyo-Los Angeles-Miami-Sao Paulo!

AA eventually gave up and JetBlue took over, but the city of Long Beach was never really comfortable or happy with JetBlue’s operations there. The city fined the airline for curfew violations and residents never liked the extra noise and flights. Long Beach never did become the powerhouse west coast hub that it could have been as Boston, Fort Lauderdale, and JFK are on the east coast for JetBlue.

Long Beach is a great little airport, but JetBlue has had enough of their shenanigans and has moved their west coast hub from Long Beach to Los Angeles.

Venice Pushes Back The Flood Waters

Not everything in 2020 is bad news.

Venice has fought with acqua alta flooding during the fall and winter for centuries.

But the city is in middle of building a flood barrier dam and it helped keep Venice dry this week.

Flooding last year devastated the city, and COVID-19 killed this summer’s tourist season, so it’s nice to see Venice catch a break. We spent a wonderful Shabbos with Chabad in Venice in 2010 and look forward to returning with the kids one day.

Ritz-Carlton Maldives Has Overwater Base Award Rooms

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives is selling rooms starting in May 2021.

The top-tier category 8 hotel has rooms from 70K points per night:


The good news is that the Ocean Pool Villa is the base room and is a great points value with a paid rate of more than $1,600 with tax!


The bad news is that it appears that the transfer from Male Airport will cost a whopping $900 per person. That’s insane considering the resort is just a 10 minute seaplane from the airport.

Additionally, in general the water isn’t as clear so close to the Male Airport, so you may be better off with a farther flung resort. 3 resorts share the Fari Islands, so it’s also not as private as the W or S. Regis that have their own island.

I suppose we’ll know how good of a value it is next year when the reviews start coming in.

United’s Route Tease Clues Revealed 

United put out a teaser video a few weeks ago about new route launches and I had a fun time trying to decipher it. Several of the predictions panned out, but there were also some surprises.

Here are some of the clues explained:


Is The Floor Better Than El Al’s 777 First Class?

El Al is killing off first class, but they still have the seats on their 777s.

The 6 first class seats are upholstered in plastic in an ancient 2-2-2 configuration, making them worse than business class on most airlines.

But is sleeping on the floor better than the first class seats? Apparently Bibi thinks so:


Somehow I don’t think Bibi would be sleeping on the floor if he was flying Emirates first class instead:

View this post on Instagram

#Bedtime from #Emirates #ShowerClass #Suite

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BA’s New First Class: Lipstick On A Pig

BA has taken their old uninspired first class seat and put doors on it. It’s still uninspired and is one of the worst first class products out there. Perhaps not “Bibi would rather sleep on the floor bad,” but it’s up there.

Why bother keeping first class when it’s no better than your new business class product? Who will pay the massive premium?

BA Says Goodbye To The 747

British Airways planned to fly the Queen of the Skies for years to come. Then came COVID-19.

The options for flying on a 747, or an A380 for that matter, are rapidly dwindling due to the pandemic.

BA said goodbye to their final 747s:

A Truly Terrible Way To Get To Europe

Ukraine Air grounded its widebodies, but it still plans on resuming flights to JFK. They filed plans to do so on a 737!

Of course a 737 can’t make it to Kiev, so it will have to refuel in Iceland, making the flight from Kiev to JFK take over 12.5 hours. Business class are regular coach seats with a blocked middle seat and there’s no entertainment, power, or WiFi onboard.

Good luck selling seats on that torture tube!

Ukraine Air: We treat everyone poorly!

United’s Most Frequent Flyer Hit Another Milestone

Tom Stuker hit an insane 22,000,000 BIS (butt-in-seat) miles on United. The consultant spends a truly impressive amount of time in the air.



I had a fun time shmoozing with Tom on United’s 747 retirement flight a few years ago. Odds are that if you fly United enough you’ll bump into him too:

The Last A380 Has Been Assembled

The final A380 has been assembled in Toulouse.

The A380 will go down as one of Airbus’ greatest failures. The plane with grand hopes of connecting the world was too big to succeed.

Just last January I was in Toulouse and Airbus executives I spoke with there expressed optimism that they would land a deal with Emirates to keep the A380 in production for years to come, until the world was ready for jumbos again.

But a month later the deal would fall apart and Airbus announced they would stop producing the plane after finishing their current order book. I wrote my goodbyes and thanks for the memories here.


View this post on Instagram


#A380 #First

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Winning The Quarantine Lottery

Singapore requires that everyone has to stay in a random hotel for 2 weeks.

The WSJ covers the story (archive link) of how some people get assigned to a dive, while others get a 2 week vacation at the Ritz-Carlton.

My only question is, do you get Bonvoy benefits and elite night credits on a quarantine stay?

Bnei Brak Gets Their Money’s Worth From PR Stunt

The municipality of Bnei Brak is upset that they are being bypassed from a new light rail line in Tel Aviv metro.

The city paid a firm to create a viral video, and they got just that with a video showing Charedim not being allowed to board a train.

The PR stunt may not prove popular, but it sure got the discussion started!

Tokyo Games Will Go On, COVID Or Not

The Olympics will not be stopped.

The International Olympic Committee says that the games will begin on July 23rd whether or not COVID-19 is still a concern.

Left unsaid, is whether there will be attendees in the stands. I’ve long wanted to attend the Olympics, so I guess it will be wait and see at this point.

Will you try to make it to the Tokyo Games?

Jared Kushner Buys A Torah For Bahrain

After the UAE and Israel agreed to normalize their relationship, Bahrain announced that they would do so as well.

Those are incredible accomplishments and I love this picture of Jared Kushner presenting the King of Bahrain with a Torah for use in a Bahrain shul. The Torah was paid for out of Jared’s pocket.

Times are changing in the Middle East!

Hatikvah Plays At The Burj Khalifa

2 months ago an Israeli couldn’t enter the UAE.

Now the Burj Khalifa not only has the only kosher certified restaurant in the Middle East outside of Israel, but it’s even playing Israel’s national anthem!

There’s a Sukkah in front of the Burj!

Yes indeed, times are changing in the Middle East!


The UAE’s Khaleej Times had a special Rosh Hashana section:

Meanwhile, Saudi blogger Mohammed Saud sings מאמינים בני מאמינים. Will Saudi Arabia and Israel be next to normalize their relationship?

The Las Vegas Strip Finally Has A Smoke Free Casino

Smoking is in long-term decline among Americans, but Vegas hasn’t caught up, with smoky casinos being the norm.

The Park MGM reopened yesterday and it has gone smoke free.

It is the only Vegas casino to make the plunge.

It’s easy to make a gamble like that when guests are hard to come by. Hopefully it sticks around!

Do Phones Grow From Trees?

People have been noticing smartphones hanging in trees and wondering what in the world is going on?

Bloomberg has the scoop, it’s contractors gaming Amazon’s system for assigning deliveries!

Amazon dispatches orders based on how close a contractor is to a Whole Foods or Amazon delivery station, so the phone in the tree will get assigned the order.

Hopefully their phones are insured!

The Broke Billionaire 

If you had $8 billion, what would you do with it? Would you give it all away?

Chuck Feeney gave away more than $8 billion, leaving himself and his wife just $2 million.

Reasonable minds can quibble about where the money went to, but it’s still incredible to see that kind of philanthropy. It’s a lot harder to give it all away while you’re still alive, but I suppose it must be more meaningful as well.

Chuck E. Cheese Will Spend Millions To Destroy Tickets

Chuck E. Cheese is in bankruptcy court. They’re sitting on 7 billion redemption tickets that they feel are now useless in the era of COVID-19. They plan to switch to electronic tickets, but as their tickets have no expiration date, they don’t want the public getting their hands on 7 billion tickets.

Apparently their tickets are worth 0.13 cents each (about as much as a Delta Skypeso 😉 ), as they said the tickets could be redeemed for $9MM in prizes. That’s a whole lot of Laffy Taffys!

Rather than let that happen, they’ll spend $2.3MM to destroy the tickets.

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure Finder Comes Forward

I wrote about Forrest Fenn’s treasure being found in a previous roundup.

The finder wished to remain anonymous, but he’s slowly coming out of the shadows with this article on Mr. Fenn a couple of weeks after his death.

If he was smart, he would hide half the treasure and write books about it 😀

Black Licorice Deserves Its Bad Reputation

Is there any worse candy than black licorice?

Not only does it taste gross, but eat a bag a day for a few weeks and you’ll wind up dead. Of all the ways to die in 2020, black licorice poisoning sure sounds like the worst to me.

The Slavin Family Of Sydney Gets A Home And Soup Kitchen Makeover

Chabad Shluchim Rabbi Dovid and Laya Slavin of Sydney run a soup kitchen and open their home to countless guests.

First, they won an awesome home makeover:


Then, their soup kitchen and home kitchen won a makeover as well!


May they use it in good health to host and feed many!


777 Lands At JFK

An Air France 777 from Paris lands at JFK and I’m fascinated as always as an Avgeek. I think I’ll be a pilot in my next lifetime…

Colorized Footage Of Jerusalem 1897

Who knew footage like this existed from the 19th century?

Jewish Rapper Responds To Wiley

British rapper Wiley was tossed off social media after a series of anti-Semitic Tweets.

Jewish rapper Moshe Friedman spits rhymes in his response:


The MLB Press Conference I Didn’t Expect To See

Rabbi Fakes Death To Catch Would Be Assassins

2020 news stories are next level bizarre.

Rabbi Arie Leib Tkach worked with police in Russia in a sting operation to catch anarchists who wanted him dead. The anarchists hired who they thought was a hit man to kill the Rabbi, but in fact they hired the police.

The Rabbi then had to fake his death to provide pictures to the anarchists, who paid for the hit, and were then arrested.

At least the story has a happy ending!

Share your thoughts on these stories or post a comment about what other stories that I missed!

Previous roundups

Catch up on what you missed!

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42 Comments On "10/9/20 News Roundup: COVID-19 Second Wave, Flights To Nowhere, Skymiles Mortgage, Airlines Banning Food, Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Home Makeover, Faked Death, And More!"

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I’ll destroy Chuck e cheese tickets for 2mm


When yidden put doctors before rabbis then we have a big problem
Just want to point out what u wrote in this article
“And we, as a community, need to be better at following our own doctors and rabbis.”

Not Shua

Doctors give medical advice. Rabbis only intervene when the medical advice may be in conflict with halacha.


Abe, I’m not sure what you are getting at. Let me ask you, when you infant has a high fever, do you call your Rav in the middle of the night, or do you look for an urgent care center/Hatzollah? When a Doctor (especially a frum doctor or Hatzollah) tells you that you have a highly contagious illness and should daven at home this shabbos, do you start bothering your Rav precious hours before shabbos? When we have a question about kashurus, niddah, a worn-out tefillin strap— I reach out to my Rav, when I have diarrhea I’ll call my doctor—- thank you very much.


According to u he shouldn’t have added rabbis at all in to his tweet


How is Cuomo being antisemitic by shutting down infected areas? Unfortunately, the orthodox community has had way to many deaths, what does it have to do with the government?


Because of the outbreak in NYC metro, my kids’ school in Chicago will be opening a week late after Sukkos.


Same in FL. There seems to be a spiderweb effect from NY’s mishugas.


It’s amazing how much the media controls public perception!
Brooklyn and Queens are doing far better than practically all of Illinois including the Chicagoland counties. They are also doing better than most of Florida including Miami Dade. They are about comparable to Broward and Palm Beach County (Hollywood and Boca). (The only worse or comparable Jewish areas in NY is part of Rockland and Orange counties. But I doubt there is much crossover from those communities to your schools lol).
Check the data for yourself: https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/

The uptick you are hearing about in NYC is only relative to the way things have been in NY the past several months. (If the “hot spot” areas in NYC were their own states, they would be amongst the better ones).


only Bais Yaakov is holding off a week. no other chicago schools are doing that


Cheder lubavitch is waiting a week and testing all staff and students

Not Shua

Dan, when is the DD-branded Magic 8 Ball coming out?


Dan, You’re the best! I really appreciate your analysis, Keep up the good work!


Financials is what shut down the Concorde not the sonic boom and probably the reason why we will not see a super sonic in our lifetime…. same with A380 It’s all about the financials


I question some of the “facts” In the incidents reported in the article that was Outright embarrassing.

Also, notice it is called a “night of rage and violence”. (Another paper used the term “riot”). If you’re protesting for the “right” things though, you can smash businesses, loot them and burn them down and it’s a “mostly peaceful protest”.


@DAN, I really enjoy reading these roundups! Thank you! Have you been reading about BOOM Technology? They debuted their XB-1 demonstrator this week. They plan on cutting flight times in half for the same price as a business class ticket.

reb yid

“Now the Burj Khalifa not only has the first kosher restaurant in the Middle East outside of Israel,”
Jews have been living in the Middle East outside of Israel for at least the last 2500 years, surely they had kosher restaurants. For example, Chullin 106a, and probably many others.


Not that I can speak from experience, but is there really not a single kosher establishment within Iran or Turkey’s Jewish communities?


Thank you! I continue to enjoy immensely your news roundups!!
Keep em coming!!!


“Is this being a light unto the nations?”

Dan, have you joined the reform?!
You should know better that mefarshim don’t interpret that verse the way reform exploit it. Next thing you’ll be writing about tikkun olam?!